Lockdown amid a global pandemic has seen the world largely split into two groups. One group is desperate for progression, to use the pandemic as a chance to leap forward and make strides towards the future. Others have seen it as a time to return to the traditional values which had seen them fare so well before. For King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, one of the preeminent psyche rock bands in the world, their latest album K.G., shows they’re firmly in the latter camp.
The band have never avoided releasing music. This, their sixteenth record to date, is another instalment of their folk-tinged psychedelia and will undoubtedly please any King Gizz fans. But those of us who maybe arrived at the LP with a thought on the future, the band’s return to their familiar sound is a little frustrating. Through ten tracks, Stu McKenzie and the band deliver a double dose of unadulterated Gizz.
McKenzie and the rest of the band should firstly be commended for cultivating a sound and technique that is so unique to them as a band that it feels hard to move away from. The custom-built electronic baglama that the band’s leader had built is probably the clearest indication of that sound. Built out of the natural beauty of folk it has been given a drastic cyborg facelift to now appear utterly terrifying, leading McKenzie through new albums without reproach.
Unlike most King Gizzard albums, the record also has some standout singles too. It’s hard to ignore ‘Intrasport’ as one of the best on the album while the dance-around-a-field joy of ‘Straws in the Wind’ is a wonderful reprieve. Of course, the best song on the album is the beguiling ‘Honey’ which has a habit of transporting you away from any feeling of imposing doldrum that may be on the horizon. However, it doesn’t stop the record feeling a little flat.
I know what you’re thinking, to be disappointed about picking up a King Gizzard album for it to sound like King Gizzard is as ludicrous as it sounds—but that doesn’t make that disappointment any less real.
K.G. has a habit of feeling a little bit cliched. Billed as the follow-up to 2017’s Flying Microtonal Banana, the record is too determined to be aligned. Drenched in sepia-toned filters, there are a lot of different textures in the LP but the band have been so deliberately varied in their previous outings that it feels more like a rehashing of old material than any groundbreaking move toward glory.
Of course, if you like the band, who cares? For any King Gizzard fan, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into. But, if like me you were hoping for a leap forward, then you’ll likely be disappointed. The record will no doubt be a part of my rotation in the coming weeks, such is the overall power of the band and McKenzie’s vision but there’s no denying that this is a side-step for the group.